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Red Zone Usage Risers and Fallers - Week 12


We are one the final stretch to the playoffs, meaning it is time to get your roster in shape for a playoff push and championship run. As fantasy owners, we know that not all touches are equal. A touch in the red zone has an increased chance of scoring a touchdown, so those touches are important to target.

To identify the players to target in trades, RotoBaller's Premium Red Zone Sleepers tool can give you a sense of who is being utilized more in the all-important area of the field to provide more scoring potential. A preview of the tool and the top players in red-zone touches is shown below.

Just like targets are the lifeblood of a receiver's value in PPR leagues, red-zone touches are the most relevant factor to consider for standard leagues. Each week, I will identify some risers and fallers based on their red-zone touches, and what that means for your team.

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Red Zone Risers

RUNNING BACKS

Kalen Ballage (RB, MIA) - 32.2% Red-zone touch%

Ballage is now the lead running back for the Miami Dolphins, proving that a starting running back is valuable, regardless of the team they play for.

The Miami Dolphins are one of the worst offenses in the league, running 62 plays in the red zone so far this season. There are only two teams that have called fewer plays near the goal line this season. However, Ballage has gained 20 touches from those 62 plays, and with no competition, that role is likely to remain his for the rest of the season.

Alvin Kamara (RB, NO) - 21.8% Red-zone touch%

Kamara missed some time this season due to injury, during which time Latavius Murray was highly effective in the red zone. However, since Kamara has returned to the team he has been utilized heavily in the red zone.

The New Orleans Saints running back is also in line for some positive regression, with the running back having only scored one touchdown this season in the red zone.

Brian Hill (RB, ATL) - 12.2% Red-zone touch%

Hill emerged last week as a popular waiver wire pickup with a number of injuries suffered in the Atlanta backfield. Hill may not have met expectations last week, but he was heavily utilized in the red zone and has had 11 touches in recent weeks.

The Falcons have a heavy tendency towards passing the ball, running the ball on just 37.8% of their plays this season. However, as the only effective running back on the roster, he is worth monitoring.

WIDE RECEIVERS

D.J. Moore (WR, CAR) - 11.4% Red-zone touch%

Moore has yet to score a touchdown in the red zone this season and plays on an offense that is dominated by their star running back Christian McCaffrey. So why is he included as a riser?

There are only three receivers in the league who have over 10% of their team's red zone touches with no score (the others are JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Williams). The answer is simple, his involvement means he has to score soon!

John Brown (WR, BUF) - 9.9% Red-zone touch%

Brown has been a revelation in recent weeks, with his downfield speed putting pressure on defenses. However, that has now been complemented by his involvement in the red zone. The Bills wide receiver now leads the pack behind their duo of running backs.

The Bills have relied on their running backs Frank Gore and Devin Singletary this season to finish their drives in the red zone. With the team rushing on 58.0% of their plays in the red zone, there isn't a large opportunity for receivers. But with Brown's true value coming as a downfield threat, his red-zone involvement is the icing on the cake.

TIGHT END

Eric Ebron (TE, IND) - 10.1% Red-zone touch%

The King returns! Ebron was THE tight end last year when it came to red zone involvement, but his reign looked to be over after his start to the season.

However, in recent weeks he was able to touch the ball on six of the team's 29 plays in the red-zone. While he wasn't able to convert any of those into touchdowns, that should change if he continues to be involved. Pick him up before he has a big touchdown game and becomes the waiver wire pickup of the week.

 

Red Zone Fallers

RUNNING BACK

Royce Freeman / Phillip Lindsay (RB, DEN) - 24.2%/ 23.1% Red-zone touch%

I felt like I had to include the two running backs because they are killing the opportunity for one another. Unlike other teams that nominate a goal-line back, the Broncos have split the workload between their tandem of backs.

That strategy has been used effectively in the past, most recently with the New Orleans Saints, but it requires a high volume of red zone opportunities to work. Denver has only run 91 plays in the red zone. That lack of volume makes both running backs unreliable.

Adrian Peterson (RB, WAS) - 22.4% Red-zone touch%

This inclusion is due to two factors.

First, the Redskins offense isn't the best in the league. The team has only run 67 plays in the red zone this season, which is partially a result of their quarterbacks struggling this season. Something that isn't likely to change.

Secondly, the team has welcomed back 2018 second-round draft pick Derrius Guice to the team. Guice has suffered multiple injuries and setbacks since his draft selection, and the team clearly wants to see how effective he is. They have already given him four of the 14 available red zone touches in recent weeks.

WIDE RECEIVER

Demaryius Thomas (WR, NYJ) - 8.0% Red-zone touch%

The New York Jets are a pass-heavy team with only a few effective receivers, but his inclusion as a faller is obvious once you dig into the way the offense is working.

Thomas is now arguably the third receiver on the team, with running back Le'Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder leading the way. The barrier for Thomas to be effective is that the team has recently discovered that Ryan Griffin can be used in the red zone. Combining that the fact that the Jets have run a league-low 50 plays in the red zone, Thomas is likely to struggle to have value.

T.Y. Hilton (WR, IND) - 7.3% Red-zone touch%

As mentioned with Ebron's rise in recent weeks, this team is undergoing changes on offense. Hilton has historically been a downfield threat with the Colts utilizing a tandem of big-bodied tight ends or their running backs in the red zone.

With the re-emergence of Ebron, the passing targets are going to be squeezed, limiting the opportunity for Hilton to add to his touchdown haul this season, especially in the red zone.

TIGHT END

Greg Olsen (TE, CAR) - 7.6% Red-zone touch%

Olsen is a faller, as he has slipped down the pecking order in the red zone for the Panthers. The team ranks in the fourth quarter of the league in red-zone plays with just 79 plays called this season. With their running back McCaffrey accounting for 42 of those, it is unlikely that Olsen will attract the targets required to be a touchdown threat moving forward.

 

Red Zone Sleepers

RotoBaller's Premium tools offer more detailed insight into player values and help you identify which players to target on the waiver wire and/or trade market. Start with a free one-week trial, including NFL Optimizer and DFS Premium and get an advantage on the competition!

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